Jennifer Rubell's New York Debut at Sargent's Daughters
Housewife, on view at Sargent's Daughters, is Jennifer Rubell's first solo exhibition in New York. Both fun and thought provoking, Housewife encourages the audience to reflect on traditional female roles and how those implications exist in their personal lives. As is common among many of Rubell's works, each of the pieces exhibited require the physical engagement of the audience. On view are a series of six graffiti-like paintings on bathroom partitions that feature the artist's phone number and three interactive sculptures.
At the front of the gallery is Pedestal, a performative piece that consists of a 78" pedestal that holds a vacuum cleaner and a pair of red high heels. The viewer is invited to climb atop the stand and step into the heels, which are bolted into place. The vacuum cleaner becomes a crutch to lean on to position and stabilize oneself in the shoes. Situated at the front of the gallery by the windows, the viewer is not only engaging with the gallery space but also on display to the public, becoming the actualization of the phrase trophy wife. However, a conflicting feeling also emerges when enacting this piece; one not only feels the weight of the stereotype being portrayed but empowerment from the heels and height of the pedestal.
Further into the gallery is a 65" resin pair of trousers, Vessel, with a cover on top that when opened reveals cookies for the viewer to eat. The pantsuit and cookies are in reference Hilary Clinton and challenge the view that women must choose or can excel at only one role, the working professional or housewife.
At the back of the gallery is Threshold, a sculpture that features a door ajar with a headless, nude female mannequin bolted to the doorframe in a horizontal position. The viewer is meant to enter the scene from the back and "hold" the mannequin up like a groom on his wedding day. Since the figure is secured into the frame there is a sense of entrapment and fusion of the home with the identity of the woman.
Housewife is on view at Sargent's Daughters until March 5, 2017.